AMD 6th Generation Carrizo APU Unveiled: Taking On Intel At 15 Watts

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Early Carrizo Demos And The Wrap

At the AMD Carrizo Tech last month, the company had a bunch of demos setup with Carrizo whitebooks. These weren't machines you could buy in the store, but rather just prototype vehicles meant to bring out and showcase all the various features of the platform. The machines themselves were larger 15-inch models that probably weighed in at the 4-5 lb class, versus ultralight 15 Watt designs that can approach 3 lbs or less. AMD's partners aren't quite ready for volume ramp with Carrizo, but we're told company has pulled down many design wins with their new chip and we should have systems in house in the next couple of weeks for testing.

AMD Carrizo Prototype Notebook
AMD Carrizo Prototype Notebook

carizzo 3dmark
AMD Carrizo 3DMark API Overhead Test Results

Unfortunately, AMD kept these machines well-controlled and we weren't allowed to run any of our own tests on them, with the exception of the lone 3DMark API Overhead feature test. As you can see, the CPU is listed as an AMD K15 variant while the GPU is noted as "Radeon R7 Graphics."  At 2.8M - 3.23M draw calls per second, Carrizo shows favorably, especially for a notebook chip, though we have no way of knowing what power profile the system was set to, so take it with a grain of salt. We get a sense that, from a graphics standpoint, Carrizo should blow any Intel notebook processor out of the water and it should, given the company's prowess in graphics. The $64,000 question is always: "How will AMD's balance of CPU and GPU throughput bare out in a classic premium notebook design?"

Carrizo Summary

concludeAll told, AMD seems to have made some significant strides with Carrizo.  Virtually every aspect of this APU's design has been tweaked or optimized, except of course for the manufacturing process used to build it. But, as we've seen with current generation GPUs and CPUs, intelligent design choices and optimizing for power, can yield huge gains in efficiency, even without a process shrink. Carrizo has more transistors than its predecessor (3.1B transistors in Carrizo vs 2.41B in Kaveri), yet takes up roughly the same die area. The CPU cores reportedly offer higher IPC performance and higher clocks, while at lower power consumption. The GPU block received a couple more cores (in the 15 Watt envelope) and the on-die video engine has been updated with H.265 and HEVC transcode support. Carrizo is also the first fully HSA 1.0 compliant processor and it has an on-die ARM-based security engine.

Finally, the Southbridge has also been brought on-die to reduce power and footprint, which should make notebook manufacturers, OEMs and ODMs very happy with a more elegant design.
  AMD Carrizo APU Chip
AMD Carrizo In The Flesh: CPU, GPU, Northbridge, Southbridge, PCIe - The Gang's All Here

Put all of that together and Carrizo looks like a compelling, highly integrated APU that should garner major. interest from AMD's partners, assuming the architecture delivers as promised. We'll be eager to learn how Carrizo-powered laptops handle on the test track here at Hot Hardware and we'll be sure to follow-up in the weeks ahead.

Tags:  AMD, APU, (nyse:amd), carizzo

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